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Friday, 7 September, 2001, 18:19 GMT 19:19 UK
Crown Office rules out fingerprint action
Shirley McKie being fingerprinted
Ms McKie's name was cleared in the case
The Crown Office has ruled out criminal action against four fingerprint experts whose evidence led to a female police officer wrongly facing a perjury charge.

Not enough "admissible evidence" is said to be available against the experts who were suspended by the Scottish Criminal Records Office (SCRO) since August last year.

Fingerprint evidence from the (SCRO) led to the arrest and trial of Shirley McKie, of the Strathclyde police force, in 1998.

Her thumb print was said to have been found at the scene of a murder in Ayrshire, despite her protestations that she had never entered the room.

A fingerprint
The experts will not face prosecution

She was tried at Glasgow High Court in 1999 and was cleared after evidence by two independent American witnesses proved the print did not belong to her.

Miss McKie said she was outraged by the decision and intends to take a civil action against the police in the "pursuit of justice".

She said Strathclyde Police has never apologised for the misidentification, and on Friday it emerged that the force plans to defend her civil action.

The Crown Office announced its decision on Friday following a 45-minute meeting with Miss McKie and her father, Iain.

Strathclyde Police said it would not be appropriate to comment since there were "live matters surrounding the issue".

The Crown Office said there was not enough "admissible evidence" to press charges against the experts.

I have no interest in pursuing vendettas, but I am desperate for a conclusion

Shirley McKie

A spokesman said: "The Crown Office has concluded that no proceedings will be taken against officers of the SCRO following allegations of criminal conduct by Shirley McKie.

"The regional procurator fiscal at Paisley investigated the complaint and after careful consideration of his report, Crown Counsel instructed that no further proceedings should be taken in this case.

"To justify commencing proceedings, the Crown must be satisfied that there is sufficient admissible evidence."

Speaking after the meeting, Miss McKie said she was bitterly disappointed with the decision

"I want all this to come to an end. I have no interest in pursuing vendettas, but I am desperate for a conclusion," she said.

"It seems so unfair that I am left having to fight for compensation and a conclusion, but I will have to do so.

Shirley McKie, and her father, Iain
Shirley McKie: "I want this to end"

"Today's decision means that the only avenue left to conclude all this is a civil action for damages, which is likely to take a considerable time, particularly if Strathclyde Police intend to defend it, as they now indicate.

"At the end of the day, if the former Chief Constable at Strathclyde had come to me and said 'we're sorry', things would never have got this far.

"The word 'sorry' just seems to be the hardest thing for anyone in a big organisation to say.

"All I ever wanted was justice. I'm sure I will get it, but I didn't expect it to take five years."

Elizabeth Quigley reports
"The Crown Office told Miss McKie that they would not be prosecuting"
Elizabeth Quigley reports
"Shirley McKie says she just wants justice"
See also:

24 May 01 | Scotland
Praise for criminal records agency
12 Dec 00 | Scotland
Fingerprints woman to sue
14 Sep 00 | Scotland
Crime office faces shake-up
22 Aug 00 | Scotland
Fingerprint accused bailed
17 Aug 00 | Scotland
Murder appeal after print error
03 Aug 00 | Scotland
Fingerprint experts suspended
23 Jun 00 | Scotland
Trial chaos fears played down
16 May 00 | Scotland
False impression: transcript
18 Jan 00 | Scotland
Finger of suspicion: transcript
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